Al-Qaida eating its own in Middle East infighting

This op/ed originally appeared in the Contra Costa Times on November 10, 2007

The twilight zone has firmly embraced world affairs, bucking my sensibilities harder than any bronc ever did in my ranching days. While we collectively dressed-down a petty dictator in Pakistan, today I half-heartedly defend another.Running for third place as the planet’s top lunatic — tightly trailing Osama bin Laden and Dennis Kucinich — is the No. 2 turban in al-Qaida, Ayman al-Zawahri. His megalomania is superseded only by Satan and Dan Rather, though the distinction between that last pair is blurry at best.

In al-Qaida’s progressing defeat, we see the early signs of desperation. Not only has it backed off of its campaign in Iraq and all but fled Afghanistan, it is now turning on its former allies.

It seems that al-Qaida stands ready to take on the entire human race, and a few well-matched inhuman regimes. When your friends become your enemies, you have no friends because the few that remain no longer can trust you.

Al-Zawahri has now proclaimed Libyan madman, dictator and seeming syphilis victim, Moammar Gadhafi, as an enemy of Islam and is threatening to shift the flagging Iraq chapter of al-Qaida to battle in Tripoli. Al-Zawahri insists that Gadhafi is a puppet of Washington, just as he claims is Israel, Germany, Australia, Greenpeace and the Vienna Boys Choir. Soon al-Zawahri will believe that Vladimir Putin is in bed with George Bush (my apologies for that truly horrific mental visual).

Such paranoia precipitates a more rapid demise. Maintaining support of allies in any war is essential, for when they flag so do your followers. That was al-Qaida’s strategy in Iraq from the beginning — to break the will of the coalition, and when that failed, the will of the Iraqi public.But as al-Qaida assassinated Muslim brothers in civilian bombings of Baghdad, it began to lose support from leaders of Muslim nations.

It is doubtful that Gadhafi has become an American apparatchik. Yet anything less than full frontal jihad is enough for al-Zawahri to declare war upon a former friend and fellow fiend. His rapid reversal of political preference expands the definition of bipolar disorder beyond current psychiatric therapies.

All relationships are based on trust, even the dangerous interactions among criminals, terrorists and members of Congress. Break that trust, and half of the relationship may recast a friend as foe.

Muslims watched as al-Qaida killed Muslims, and now even the lowest of the low in Allah’s realm are without trust in bin Laden and al-Zawahri. It may not be too much longer before a disgusted Islamist ices al-Qaida’s leadership and collects a U.S.-funded cash reward.

Perhaps I should not write this piece. Napoleon said “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” When al-Qaida begins to eat their own, first by killing innocent Muslims in Iraq, then by targeting fellow Muslim dictators, they are sliding, legs akimbo down the razor blade of self-defeat. It won’t be long before al-Zawahri finds fault with Iran, accuses Mahmoud I-Want-a-Jihad of not hanging his quota of homosexuals, declares war and thus forces Iran to expel bin Laden himself. (Anyone who thinks bin Laden is spelunking in Tora Bora missed some major clues about how strategic thinkers scheme.)

My only fear is that I cannot quickly enough find a way to help accelerate al-Qaida’s suicidal process.

Smith is a writer, songwriter and political provocateur.

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